Arizona program set to help districts like KUSD fill teaching slots

Heather Shaw-Burton (right) in her days as a kindergarten teacher.

Courtesy

Heather Shaw-Burton (right) in her days as a kindergarten teacher.

KINGMAN – There’s a nationwide teacher shortage and Arizona has a program to expedite adding more to the classroom.

If you have a bachelor’s degree and want to get into teaching, the Kingman Unified School District will hold an open-house forum for an alternative teaching certification at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the administrative office, 3033 MacDonald Ave.

“This is a first-time deal in Arizona,” said Heather Shaw-Burton, KUSD director of administrative services. “It’s a new program to help make it easier for people to get teacher-certified.”

The Arizona Department of Education’s teaching intern pathway to certification program enables those with a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution to teach full time. Candidates will receive full teaching salaries and benefits, which ensures no loss of income.

There are currently about 20 open teaching positions throughout the district for the 2017-18 school year.

“We really hope this gives people an opportunity that maybe want to pursue a career in teaching,” Burton said.

Burton was a manager in the hotel and restaurant industry for years before transitioning to the education field in 2010. She took part in a Florida program similar to the one Arizona now offers.

There’s a checklist of requirements that must be met before a teaching intern certificate is issued. A degree is only the beginning. Official transcripts are required as will be a background check and subject knowledge exam in the appropriate subject area.

Once admitted to the three-year program, applicants will begin teaching at KUSD schools until fully certified.

“It’s kind of like a work study program for teachers,” Burton said.

A Grand Canyon University representative will be at the forum with information and to answer questions. Depending on the instructional subject, applicants will be certified through one of 11 participating universities and colleges in Arizona, including GCU, Arizona State University and Prescott College.

“This event will lay out the roadmap to what the plan will look like,” said Burton.

KUSD grant manager Danielle Nelson has already enrolled in the certification program for the upcoming school year. She’ll begin teaching second grade at Mt. Tipton School during the 2017 fall semester until certified.

Nelson has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and her husband teaches at Kingman High School. She jumped at the opportunity to get ahead of the game while they’re both still young.

“I worked child psychology in the juvenile detention and foster care systems,” Nelson said. “I’ve wanted to get a teaching position. Now that I’ve been working at the district, I was offered a position.”

Burton said her transitional experience paid off.

“It helped me get my foot in the door in the education world,” she said. “I was able to transfer my experiences from the business world to education.

“I enjoyed working with kids. I was a coach and volunteer,” she added. “It was just one of those things I always wanted to do.”

For more information on the program, visit http://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/alt-path/ or questions about the event contact Burton at 928-753-5678 ext. 2007.